Staycation: Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is being held this weekend, July 27-28th.  I’ve always wanted to attend, and this weekend I finally did.  My friend Danelle joins Adaptive Adventures in the boat races, so I went to cheer her on.

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is free and is held at Sloan’s Lake Park.  Parking is not allowed, so it is best to find other means of transportation or to use the festival’s free shuttle which transports festival goers from the Auraria Campus regularly.  I coupled my visit with some exercise, rode my bike to the lake, and utilized the bike corals.

Dragon Boat Races

The races start before the rest of the event, and due to my slow start to the morning, I missed the first few.  Not to worry though, as the boat races take place all day.  The boat race schedule may be found on the festival’s website.

The dragon boats are long, wooden boats decorated to look like dragons.  They hold 20 paddlers, a steerer at the stern and a caller at the bow that bangs a drum for rhythm. The teams which include both clubs and corporations compete in races of different lengths.  It takes them 2-3 minutes to complete 500 meters.

After cheering on the Adaptive Adventures and Danelle in one of their many races, I visited several vendors and the food trucks.  The vendors ranged from Asian treatments and decorations to State Farm and Toyoto.  The companies featured many free give aways, while the event featured a chance to win a trip to Asia.

Food Trucks

The food trucks included a large selection, though the most popular seemed to be Hot Bamboo which made steamed buns and dumplings.  Given the sunny skies and little shade at the park, snow cones were also a common choice. 

good food at the colorado dragon boat festival

The most interesting food I saw was called Dragon’s Breath.  Puffed balls that taste like Fruit Loops are soaked in liquid nitrogen.  Smoke rises in the air as the puffed balls freeze.  They are handed over in a cup with some flavored dipping sauce use to keep the balls from sticking to your cheeks like cold ice cubes!

dragon's breath

Asian Culture

In addition to the vendors, the festival also features Asian dances and rituals.  I watched a prayer ceremony, dragon dancing, and an instrumental song performance. 

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in Denver began 18 years ago.  The organizers hoped they would attract 3,000 people when in fact they more than 15,000 attended and the vendors ran out of food!  Now the popular event hosts over 120,000 visitors over the weekend.

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is a fun way to learn about Asian culture while enjoying time at the park with friends and family.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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